Tag Archives: new media

Column: The most subversive text of the year

Column No. 350, published on June 23, 2015.

For a good many of us, “Laudato Si” (Praised Be) will be the most subversive text we will read all year, or indeed for many years. The extraordinary eco-encyclical from Pope Francis contains explosive truths, not about the science of climate change, but about the persistence of poverty, the excesses of a market economy, the fetish for technology and the technocratic solution, the consequences of middle-class aspirations, the failings of the media, even the role of the human in a “rapidifying” world.

“Laudato Si” offers the kind of radical reading that subverts our assumptions, challenges our deepest convictions, makes us see anew. The lengthy document attempts to give a truly global treatment of the ecological catastrophe we all face; some or many of the notes the Pope strikes will be familiar to us, but taken together, the whole acquires a resonance unheard since “Gaudium et Spes” signaled the reconciliation between the Church and the modern world. Continue reading


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Column: Paid hacks and retards?

Published on April 28, 2015.

The other week, I had the privilege of addressing the national conference of the Philippine Association of Communication Educators on a vexing subject: the quality of discourse in today’s new media. In preliminary remarks, I made two contrasting assertions. In the last couple of decades the overall quality must have risen, because the Internet has made access to the best sources and references possible; at the same time, the volume of offensive language has also obviously increased, creating Augean stables of gratuitous insult and hate speech.

But my main purpose at the PACE convention was to raise two specific questions, based on a reading of online comment threads, including that of the Inquirer. Why are “paid hack” and “retard” the preferred terms of abuse online, and what can the country’s communication educators do to discourage their use? Continue reading

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Column: Privacy and social media: 12 theses

Published on December 16, 2014.

1. The current legal regime on privacy is based on a 19th-century understanding of the press. The influential Harvard Law Review article of Dec. 15, 1890, by Samuel Warren and justice-in-the-making Louis Brandeis, famously gave focus to the scope of that right: “the right to be let alone.” In other words, privacy as we legally understand it today has been mostly a reaction to a “too enterprising press.”

2. The article’s summary of the excesses of the press is harsh but also, as far as it goes, accurate, even today, almost 125 years later. “Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery. To satisfy a prurient taste the details of sexual relations are spread broadcast in the columns of the daily papers. To occupy the indolent, column upon column is filled with idle gossip, which can only be procured by intrusion upon the domestic circle.”

3. But social media is based on what we can call an opposite right, the right to be part of a crowd, the right to not be alone. In most cases, someone joins social media—posts a video of a Christmas party on Facebook, retweets a Dalai Lama quote on Twitter, endorses a professional on LinkedIn, and so on—in order to share something with a community.

4. The question, then, is: What does this new reality mean for the right to privacy today? Does the emergence of new media also mean a new understanding of the concept of privacy? Warren and Brandeis preface their research with a word about the evolution of law; we can take our cue from them. Continue reading

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Column: Confirmation bias: A case study

Links to follow! Published on August 6, 2013.

The other Friday, I had the privilege of speaking before over a thousand delegates taking part in De La Salle University’s exceptionally well-organized Student Media Congress. In direct response to the organizers’ request, I talked about how newspapers like the Inquirer were “redefining reading” and “taking print to the next level.”

I argued the following points: globally, print is very much alive; it has a future that will excite the younger generation; it will continue to form a part, even a leading part, of the media mix; and augmented reality (like INQSnap) is transforming print as we know it

This is how the Rappler story, by David Lozada, reported my half-hour on the stage:
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Column: Does the Holy Spirit read social media?

In which I suggest, ever so gently, that two cardinals revisit their theology of the media. Published on March 26, 2013.

The retired cardinal archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Rosales, had a ready answer when asked, upon returning from the conclave in Rome, why the media failed to predict the identity of the new pope. “God does not read social media,” he said.

That is the quote as found in Lito Zulueta’s comprehensive March 17 report in the Inquirer. On Zulueta’s Twitter account, the quote, tweeted at least a day before the newspaper came out, specifically names the third person of the Holy Trinity: “because the holy spirit does not read social media” (no caps).

The Wall Street Journal’s Southeast Asia Real Time blog remembered Rosales’ quip in the same, specific, fashion. Cris Larano’s engaging post quoted Rosales as saying: “The joke in Rome is that Pope Francis was elected because the Holy Spirit didn’t read social media … or watch CNN.”
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Entering “a new era of the Internet”

Speaking at Mashable Connect 2011, Steve Rubel proposed a third Internet era: After Commercialization (1994-2002) and Democratization (2002-2010), comes Validation (beginning, according to his non-Mayan calendar, in 2010).

With this shift in authority, Rubel proposes that as of 2010, the Internet has entered the Validation era, in which Internet users are beginning to “find the signal in the noise” and hold on to only those pieces of information and people that are most important to them online. The rise of intimate social networks such as Path, and group messaging apps such as GroupMe, Beluga, Fast Society and Kik, is an indicator that “people want to be closer to people they care about and let all the riffraff set aside,” says Rubel.

A most interesting, if rather programmatic, read.

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Journalist navel-gazing, continued

Joshua Benton’s presentation before the Canadian Journalism Foundation last January, especially the last paragraph of the seventh of “Eight trends for journalism in 2011” he posited, made me sit up and take notice.

One last element about this. This is the BBC’s iPad app, if you haven’t seen it. And I think one of the brilliant elements of it is that when you launch the app, it doesn’t present you with a menu of options. It doesn’t say, “Here are 17 options, choose one.” It’s not a choose-your-own-adventure. It immediately tells you, “This is where your adventure should start.” It puts you in a story right away. You don’t to have any action, you’re immediately pushed in. And then it becomes, “How do you navigate from story to story?” Instead of going to a story, hitting the back button, going to look over the other menu of options, then going back again. The metaphor that exists on a lot of iPad apps in the news world is swiping from story to story. Which is a very similar experience to what you traditionally had in newspapers — seeing stories and being able to dive in right there.

The return of the professional journalist as gatekeeper?

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Column: Blogging the 2010 elections

Published on May 5, 2009

Second-class nation. The decision by the giant GMA network and long-time blocktimer Solar Sports to delay the telecast of Manny Pacquiao’s Las Vegas fights to accommodate innumerable ads is creating a second class of TV viewers: those who cannot afford to watch pay-per-view TV or do not wish or know how to follow a boxing match on AM radio. Think about it: several million Filipinos saw or heard Ricky Hatton fall a third and final time just before noon last Sunday. The rest of the nation saw the perfectly leveraged left hook which knocked Hatton out even before he hit the canvas when it was already almost three in the afternoon.

I’ve read a statement from GMA, placing the burden squarely on the shoulders of Solar Sports. While it is true that Solar earns through the advertising, GMA cannot be entirely blameless; it sets the rate which Solar must pay.

Pacquiao’s many fans deserve to watch his fights live. Solar can make it happen by dramatically raising its ad rates and drastically reducing the number of advertisers. A company that picks up the entire tab—a San Miguel, say, or a PLDT, ponying up about as much as it does for an Olympic sponsorship—will reap a nation’s gratitude. Continue reading

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